Great West Quarter transformed the former GlaxoSmithKline brownfield site into a vibrant mixed-use living quarter along the ‘Golden Mile’ in Brentford.
Focused around the sensitive conversion of the Grade II listed Wallis House, it provides 900 private and affordable apartments, cafés, restaurants, a convenience store, créche, health and fitness centre, surgery, art gallery, hotel and business space, all surrounding a 1.1 hectare public piazza.
From the outset, much of the site was designated for employment use due to its constrained location adjacent to the M4/A4 corridor. Our strategic approach looked to relax these planning requirements by protecting the homes from the major road through the provision of a commercial buffer. The existing Wallis House and the adjacent office building were retained, whilst the new buildings were intelligently designed to mitigate the harsh environment.
Retaining heritage – Wallis House
The Grade II listed Wallis House was one of the few remaining examples of inter-war factory ‘point buildings’ that once characterised the Golden Mile. The existing building was retained and sensitively converted, with the internal quirks and idiosyncrasies of the original factory influencing each of the 111 individually designed apartments, no two of which are the same.
To the rear, an agglomeration of ancillary structures were removed to make way for two external courtyards, whilst the double-height art-deco foyer was restored, complete with curved interior balconies, metal balustrades and polished plaster, and a modern entrance portal incorporated to create a sophisticated arrival that complements the 1940s architecture.
“The Twentieth Century Society welcomes with enthusiasm its [Wallis House] proposed restoration and conversion into flats. Assael and Barratt West London have drawn up a sensitive and innovative scheme that respects the outstanding qualities of this massive yet carefully proportioned building.” The Twentieth Century Society
Reaching new heights – The Tower
Overlooking the masterplan, the visually striking and technically sophisticated 27-storey tower incorporates a 100-room apart-hotel on the lower floors, 78 apartments and penthouses above, and a public gallery at the top with views across Kew Gardens.
The envelope of the building was designed with a twin-skin façade that creates a high performance envelope; the glazed outer skin protects the accommodation from the elements and noise of the adjacent M4 / A4 carriageway, whilst the inner skin provides the thermal barrier.
Greener living – Westgate House
Westgate House sits adjacent to The Tower and comprises 83 apartments and a nine-storey glass atrium that features multiple amenity decks, tiered landscaping, integrated seating, sculptural planting and a 30-metre high living green wall – the tallest in Europe at the time – that cascades down through the decks.
This atrium acts as an acoustic buffer between the residential apartments and the main road, and contributes to the air filtration into the building via the plants and mechanical filters, pumping out cleaner, filtered air to the outside space around the building. This atrium has created a distinct landmark along the road, emphasised by feature lighting, and a healthy environment that residents can enjoy throughout the entire year.
A key ambition was to encourage interaction amongst the community and a series of courtyards, a playground and the central piazza bring the buildings and uses together at the centre of the site. There is also a public art strategy, including artist Alison Turnbull’s colourful artwork embedded into the façade of one of the apartment buildings, and the full height light feature on The Tower.